Enabling techniques for online communities

Written by Emma O'Connell

RDSi recently held an internal lunch ‘n learn session on Projective and Enabling Techniques.  Aside from best practice, we looked at a wide range of techniques from the wackier ones like role play, to the more every day, such as brand analogies.  During the course of the session, we noticed just how many of these techniques we use for online communities.  In fact, enabling techniques, are essential to get the most out of respondents online.

At RDSi, we’ve had a lot of experience of using online communities for a wide range of projects, from exploratory market studies through to product placement.  And we know that the outputs are only as good as the creative tasks that have to engage and motivate consumers to respond as fully as they can.  We are constantly evolving new creative tasks tailored to the research objectives and the target audience.  Some of our favourites involve collages, writing in the third person and deprivation exercises.

As rounded qual researchers we are ‘method neutral’, one week moderating an online community, the next week conducting groups, so our understanding of best practice in the face-to-face context informs the way we approach moderating an online community and vice versa.  We know that to get the most out of creative tasks, we need to ensure respondents themselves tell us what their output means.  The most impressive collage in the world doesn’t help us if we don’t understand what it means to the person who created it.

Maybe the use of creative tasks and questions, otherwise known as enabling techniques, is one of the ways we can demonstrate that the online community is a bona fide qualitative method.  We are successfully engaging respondents at a deeper level where they can tell us more and help us uncover those all-important insights.